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  • Paul Klee
    Dec 18, 1879 – Jun 29, 1940
  • Insula Dulcamara - Paul Klee was a Swiss painter of German nationality, whose personal, often gently humorous works are replete with allusions to dreams, music, and poetry. His highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included expressionism, cubism, and surrealism. He was, as well, a student of orientalism.
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Insula Dulcamara
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  • Insula Dulcamara

  • Paul Klee
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  • 1938
    Oil on newsprint, mounted on burlap
    31 1/2 x 69 in
    Klee Foundation, Bern.

    In 1938 Klee painted seven large panels in horizontal format. All of them are sketched with charcoal on newsprint, which Klee pasted over burlap or linen, thus obtaining a surface at once smooth and differentiated. The printed paper often shows through the color, and we read snatches of old asd and editorials. This did not trouble Klee in the slightest - he enjoyed such effects of mild surprise. More generally, he now makes greater use of unusual materials such as wrapping paper and burlap, paste colors, and plaster coatings. Similarly, from 1937 on, he employed bar strokes of varying thickness for his sign language.

    Insula Dulcamara is cheerful work, with its sparse appurtenances on a dark ground. Klee rejected the suggestion that this picture be named "Calypso's Island" as too "direct," but his sketch fits that idea. The black contours are coastlines, the head is an idol, the other curved lineaments point to some tragic entanglement. On the horizon a steamer is sailing by; this does not affect the myth any more than the heavenly signs are contradictory - one of them stands for the rising, the other for the setting moon. The colors are springlike - a May green, a blossom pink, and a sky blue. This is spring on one of the Cylades, which Ulysses passed on his way to Ithaca. The Homeric Age has not yet ended, yet our own has long since begun, and the future with it. Transparency of time and Transparency of space, for where would the latter begin or stop, where would be the difference between the sea and the land? Klee has entered the multidimensional without being aware of it, though in his youth he thought of this state as his supreme goal.

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Other paintings by Paul Klee:

Oriental Feast
Oriental Feast
Light-Broadening I
Light-Broadening I
Seaside Resort in the South of France
Seaside Resort in the South of France
Paul KleePaul Klee was born on December 18, 1879, in Munchenbuchsee, Switzerland, into a family of musicians. His childhood love of music was always to remain profoundly important in his life and work. From 1898 to 1901, Klee studied in Munich. Upon completing his schooling, he traveled to Italy in the first in a series of trips abroad that nourished his visual sensibilities. He settled in Bern in 1902. A series of his satirical etchings was exhibited at the Munich Secession in 1906. That same year, Klee married Lily Stumpf, a pianist, and moved to Munich. Here he gained exposure to Modern art.

Klee met Alexej Jawlensky, Vasily Kandinsky, August Macke, Franz Marc, and other avant-garde figures in 1911; he participated in important shows of advanced art in Munich and Berlin. In 1912, he visited Paris for the second time, where he saw the work of Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso and met Robert Delaunay. Klee helped found the Neue Munchner Secession in 1914. Color became central to his art only after a revelatory trip to Tunisia in 1914.

In 1920, a major Klee retrospective was held in Munich. Klee taught at the Bauhaus in Weimar from 1921 to 1926 and in Dessau from 1926 to 1931. During his tenure, he was in close contact with other Bauhaus masters, such as Kandinsky and Lyonel Feininger. In 1924, the Blaue Vier, consisting of Lyonel Feininger, Jawlensky, Kandinsky, and Klee, was founded. Among his notable exhibitions of this period were his first in the United States in 1924; his first major show in Paris the following year and an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1930. Klee went to Dusseldorf to teach at the Akademie in 1931, shortly before the Nazis closed the Bauhaus. Forced by the Nazis to leave his position in Dusseldorf in 1933, Klee settled in Bern the following year. Klee died on June 29, 1940, in Muralto-Locarno, Switzerland.